Reluctant reader is a term I hear a lot, especially as children move through the key stages – but what is a reluctant reader and what can you do about it if you parent or teach one?
Reluctant readers CAN read – it’s not that they can’t or that they struggle. Given the choice, they just DON’T WANT to read. In fact, a reluctant reader will often do anything to avoid reading the material that is in front of them – doodle, daydream, do the dishes – you name it, they’ll do it!
So, if a child can read and they’re not struggling, what’s the problem? Research indicates that children who read regularly, especially for pleasure, achieve more at school and so it’s vital that we do what we can to remove reluctance to reading before it has a long-term impact on learning.
Here are 8 tried and tested techniques that I use to rally reluctant readers and develop the bookworm within.
1. Read TO them
Enjoying text is not always about reading it in person. Listening to a great tale, a fascinating piece of information or funny anecdote are great ways to engage. It’s also an effective way of modelling fluency and use of expression.
2. Use tagging
When reading together, give each other the option of tagging one another to take turns reading different sentences, sections or paragraphs. You could even identify one type of text feature that you’re each responsible for reading, for example, one person reads all the titles and subheading, the other reads the captions and labels. It allows reluctant readers to take a break but still engage and enjoy the text.
3. E-books and audio books
These are effective tools for enticing reluctant readers with a vast range of genres and text types that can be downloaded and accessed at the touch of a button, anywhere and at any time.
Reading should be fun. One of the best ways to tempt a reluctant reader is to make them laugh. Play around with texts and see who can create the funniest ending or start to a story. Add cheeky twists to traditional tales and show the mischievous side of a character by adding a touch of naughtiness. Laughing triggers happy hormones that the reader will associate with reading being a pleasurable experience.
5. Anything will do
It really doesn’t matter what they read – any form of engagement with a text at whatever level is good! Try poems, magazines, comics, newspapers, joke books, graphic texts, letters, signage when you’re out and about and emails and text messages too. It’s doesn’t need to be a school book.
Readers engage more when they are reading for a purpose, so where possible give reading a context. Reading instructions for learning how to do something new such as building a model aeroplane or cooking a new recipe will work well. Link it to their interests and hobbies and you’re onto a winner.
7. Don’t reinvent the wheel
You don’t always have to find new things to read. It’s good to re-read old favourites and copy others! Find the book equivalents to well-loved films, explore series of books and do book swaps with friends and family.
8. Don’t push it
It’s ok to stop! Don’t push on with a reading experience if it’s not working. The reader will associate the negative feelings with the experience and process of reading. Instead, try little and often. This works effectively in developing a love of reading and will slowly but surely transform into reading for pleasure.
By Jennie Adams on 14th September 2017